Max Planck Gesellschaft

Richard Nair

Postdoctoral Researcher
phone: +49 3641 578986
room: C2.024

Research Interests

I work on ecology and biogeochemistry of plants and soils in the context of ongoing anthropogenic global change. I am particularly interested in nutrient (particularly nitrogen) dynamics, functional phenology, and plant investment into nutrient uptake and re-cycling. Methodologically, I use both destructive techniques, including stable isotope tracers (e.g. 13C and 15N) as well as non-destructive observational methods. Below-ground these latter methods are very limited and I am currently working on improving image interpretation (both in terms of information extraction and relevance to ecosystem functionality) from minirhizotron measurements of roots. I am also interested in analytical techniques (both classical statistics and machine learning methods) for interpreting and scaling field observations.

My Work at BGI

I am a member of the BAIE Group and Soil Biogeochemistry Group, working on plant-soil system processes in the MANIP experiment. At this site in the Spanish dehesa (a seasonally dry, managed agroforestry ecosystem), we manipulated N/P stoichometry by nutrient additions. We are interested in how this affects ecosystem processes, particularly its potential to act as a C sink or source. I joined the group in October 2015 have worked on a variety of experiments investigating belowground properties and responses to nutrient additions.

Minirhizotrons: I designed built a minirhizotron (below-ground camera system) root observations in situ have worked on developing quantitative methods for relating such 'remote sensed' observations to real properties of roots and soils, as well as using these methods for understanding ecosystem functioning.

From June 2017 to 2019, I was a Marie Curie Research Fellow. During this time we built automatic minirhizotron systems capable of super-high frequency observations, to capture fine-scale belowground phenology. I ran these systems both in mesocosms in Jena and then deployed them to our Spanish field site. In my current position I am still working on the longer term objectives of this project. More information about this project is available here

Stable Isotope Ecology: I have a background in stable isotope ecology and am still involved this field. In the context of my fieldwork, I have performed experiments using ^15^'N labelled litter at the MANIP site to measure litter decomposition and nutrient cycling processes.

Professional and Educational Background

  • Post-Doc (Marie-Curie Individual Fellowship) Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany (June 2017 - 2019)
  • Post-Doc Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry, Jena, Germany (October 2015 - May 2017)
  • Research Associate School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK (October 2014 - April 2015)
  • PhD School of Geosciences, University of Edinburgh, UK (September 2010 – August 2014)
    Thesis title: Using Stable Isotopes To Investigate Interactions Between The Forest Carbon and Nitrogen Cycles
    Supervisors: Maurizio Mencuccini, Mike Perks (Forest Research), Pete Levy (CEH Edinburgh)
  • MRes Ecology and Environmental Management, University of York, UK (October 2009 - September 2010)


All of my first author publications are open access (and most, if not all of my contributing author publications). If you have any difficulty accessing any of them, please contact me and I would be happy to assist you getting hold of a copy!

Directions | Disclaimer | Data Protection | Contact | Internal | Webmail | Local weather | PRINT | © 2011-2021 Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry